The Virginia Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s injunction to force Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to reinstate teacher Tanner Cross. LCPS officials had asked for a review of the decision by the Loudoun County Circuit Court, saying the court was incorrect to find a likelihood of success on the merits of the case, that Cross wasn’t likely to suffer irreparable harm without the injunction, and that the court hadn’t considered the totality of the circumstances.
“We conclude that the Defendants have not established the circuit court abused its discretion in granting Cross a temporary injunction,” the Virginia Supreme Court’s Monday order states.
“The Defendants incorrectly minimize Cross’ interest in making his public comments,” the Virginia Supreme Court wrote. “Cross made those comments at a public Board meeting where one of the issues under consideration was whether to adopt the transgender policy.”
Later, the order states, “Although the Board may have considered Cross’ speech to be ‘a trifling and annoying instance of individual distasteful abuse of a privilege,’ we believe Cross has a strong claim to the view that his public dissent implicates ‘fundamental societal values’ deeply embedded in our Constitutional Republic.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Cross, highlighted the win. The lawsuit is still moving forward — the temporary injunction is only meant to prevent further harm while the case goes through the courts. Now that the LCPS Board has approved a transgender policy, the ADF has requested the circuit court to allow the lawsuit to be amended. If approved, the change will add two more teachers as plaintiffs and focus on a provision in the transgender policy requiring teachers to use preferred pronouns. The court is expected to decide on the amendment this week.
“The lower court’s decision was a well-reasoned application of the facts to clearly established law, as the Virginia Supreme Court found. But because Loudoun County Public Schools is now requiring all teachers and students to deny truths about what it means to be male and female and compelling them to call students by their chosen pronouns or face punishment, we have moved to amend our lawsuit to challenge that policy on behalf of multiple faculty members. Public employees cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep a job,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a press release.
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